Engaging All Learners

Engaging All Learners

Friday, September 22, 2017

TCS Principals Collaborate with Area Colleagues

Principals and curriculum directors from Trussville, Homewood, Mt. Brook, and Vestavia are collaborating to share ideas and to read and discuss Learning That Lasts by Ron Berger.  ACTNow (Administrative Collaborative Team New Opportunities for Working Together) provides a platform for principals and directors to discuss current issues and to brainstorm solutions, enhancing instructional leadership. Throughout the 17-18 school year, the group will rotate meeting locations. The group met at the Mt. Brook Board of Education Wednesday, September 20.  Each district will host the group and facilitate the discussion of the book.  Additionally, the group may participate in school visits and discussions of current topics.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

TCS Literacy Team Collaborates to Design Turnaround Training

The TCS District Literacy Team met September 13 to discuss Chapter 4 of the text that the group has used to guide their learning for the last year - Reading Reconsidered by Doug Lemov, Colleen Driggs, and Erica Woolway.  The group is facilitated by secondary curriculum coordinator, Dr. Jennifer Cardwell, and reading coaches, Jenni Peters and Kelly McGough.  

Today's learning targets for the discussion were: 
I can review and finalize goal, purpose, and strategies for District Literacy Team 2017-18.
I can finalize the TCS Canon and Protected Reading List.
I can apply strategies from Chapter 4 of Reading Reconsidered.
I can collaborate and design turn-around training for my school. 

The group discussed various reading class cycles:
Read-Discuss-Read Cycle
Used with complex text, the teacher pauses to ask some questions to solidify students’ understanding.

Read-Write-Read Cycle
The teacher includes prompts that ask students to pause and jot down a quick response, followed by a speedy return to the text (Stop and Jot).
Stop and Jots allow students time to process and react without significantly interrupting the flow of the narrative or text
This cycle helps students lock in key understandings or collect their thoughts and provides teachers with a data collection point.

Read-Write-Discuss Cycle
Students write to develop and refine their ideas before sharing with the rest of the class.  This helps students engage in a genuine discussion, enabling them to listen to peers’ answers. 
The teacher walks around and reads what students are writing so she can “hunt instead of fish.”
The success of this process is dependent on planning an exemplar student response.

Read-Write-Discuss-Revise Cycle
Following the Read-Write-Discuss cycle, the teacher asks students to revise their writing based on evidence and viewpoints gathered from the class discussion.  
The act of revision forces students to refine their initial analysis.  This causes students to listen better during discussion.

Read-Discuss-Write Cycle
This cycle allows students to glean additional insights from the reading through the discussions with their peers before crafting their own responses. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Lucy Calkins Reading Workshop Follow-up Professional Learning

Today's Lucy Calkins Reading Workshop professional development for teachers of third through sixth grades was magical.  There is no doubt that our students are excelling because our TEACHERS are growing and learning SO much!  Our reading coaches and teacher leaders have done a stellar job of sharing their new learning from their experience at Teachers College in New York this summer.

What I heard today:
  • Seventy-five percent of the reading block should be spent on student READING, not listening to the teacher, not writing.  
  • We are still teaching Open Court Phonics and foundational skills.
  • All students should have access to high quality books.  (TCS spent $90,000 on quality books for students during the last 6 months.)
  • All students should read nightly.
  • Teachers should model their love of reading.  Every teacher should read aloud daily for 15-20 minutes.  Use various genres like poetry and nonfiction.
  • All students should keep a reading log.  Students may want to log the number of minutes they read each week.  
  • Every reading skill is a life skill.  
  • Students should be assessed at the beginning, middle, and end of the year.
  • The TCS Pacing Guide should be adhered to and followed.  Collaboration MUST occur among teachers. 
  • If Mentor Sentences are taking more than 15 minutes, we MUST stop that.  That takes away the time students read.  

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Looking at Data

Throughout the week, Cahaba, Magnolia, and Paine teachers have been reviewing Scantron math and STAR reading data.  As they assess their students, the teachers have considered:

  • biggest opportunities
  • biggest challenges
  • which students will be in Tier I small group intervention
  • which students will need enrichment activities
  • which standards may need to be reviewed by the whole class
  • how the data will be used to help fill in gaps for students who are struggling
  • which students are already showing proficiency
  • how to use the data to plan for enrichment

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Number Talks

Number talks are short discussions among a teacher and students about how to solve a particular mental math problem. The focus is not on the correct answer, but on all the possible methods of finding the answer. Each student has a chance to explain their method, and everyone else learns from other people's methods.

To start a number talk, the teacher gives the students a SHORT math problem to solve — but the students are not allowed to use a calculator or paper and pencil. The idea is to solve it mentally. For example, you could ask 4th-12th grade students to solve 5 × 18 using mental math.

Magnolia's second graders (below) are learning to mentally add  two-digit numbers.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Quotable Quote

“Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”

—Scott Adams (born 1957)
Creator Of Dilbert Comic Strip

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Quotable Quote

“Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.”

—Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)